Wednesday Write-Up: The Sound of Drills Gives Me Chills

Dentist extracting tooth.

I just was in one of the most feared places that most people could imagine. The DENTISTS office!!! Yes, that’s right, I have returned from a dentist’s office once more in my lifetime and am still alive!

A couple of weeks ago, I was carelessly inhaling eating a soft cookie, when a part of a rather large filling in my back tooth seemed to dissolve into nothing. I was flabbergasted and a bit anxious as I looked in the mirror and saw an actual hole in my back tooth. I calmed myself down with another cookie and decided to call a dentist the next day.

There is a Facebook group here in Phuket called the Phuket New Era Expats that is a wonderful resource for getting other expats help with anything on the island. I promptly put up a post about what torturer dentist is most liked in my area. I got many recommendations for a place called 32 Dental Clinic which happens to be a 5 minute drive from my house. I decided to go with them, but never called to make an appointment. Why do today that which could be done many tomorrows later?

With the thought that we are leaving for the States in 10 days, I figured I should get my tooth fixed before we go home where dental care costs every cent you will ever make for the rest of your life much more. I finally called yesterday and made an appointment at 32 Dental Clinic for today.

This evening, I was a bundle of exposed nerves (thank God not the nerves of my tooth… root canals are truly my worst nightmare and I never want to have one done… EVER!) and was admittedly mildly panicking as I walked into the office to the sound of screams drills and that weird smell that only a dentist’s office has. Seriously, does every dentist in the world have the same air freshener, or is it the sweet smell of fear from the hundreds of patients coming and going? I don’t know, maybe a dentist reads this blog and can answer this question. I think we would all like to know…

I filled out my paperwork and was ushered immediately into a clean and modern looking exam room. I spoke with the dentist, Dr. Lee, and told her what had happened. She leaned me back, took a look, and gave me a couple of options. I love a healthcare provider that will sit with you and explain all the options and be understanding when you ask questions, like… “What do you have to do to place a crown?”, or “Can you just give me general anesthesia to do this dental work”, or my favorite question for the dentist, “You don’t have to do a root canal, do you?” as I lay in the chair sobbing my eyes out.

I am exaggerating, no tears were shed in the dentist’s chair today, well, at least not by me. I took the option to fill the tooth again (it should last 2-4 years… long enough for me right now). She immediately sat me back and I tried to appear at ease as the dental assistant placed a blue cloth over my whole face with only a hole for my mouth. All I could do was shut my eyes and wait for the impending injection of Novocaine and hope and pray that it would go smoothly.

I heard the drill and grabbed the blue clothe off my face and asked with just a little tremble in my voice if she was going to use Novocaine. She chuckled and said that she was just cleaning the remaining filling and I wouldn’t feel a thing. The drill sounded again as I settled into the chair and literally five (yes, 5!) minutes later she handed me a mirror to show me my beautifully filled tooth! I thanked her profusely and went to pay the bill.  From the time I entered the office until I walked out the door, was 18 minutes. I am not exaggerating at all, I actually timed it!

The total bill for the painless fix on my tooth was 824 baht ($25.57 US), WITHOUT INSURANCE! Back in my hometown, my copayment for a cleaning was $40 US with insurance! Something seems wrong with that, but that is a topic for a person with far more knowledge in that area than I. Regardless, I know where I will be getting all my dental work from now on. Thailand, you rock, yet again!

Now it’s your turn to tell me… How do you feel about the dentist? Would you travel to a foreign country to get dental work done on the cheap?


15 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-Up: The Sound of Drills Gives Me Chills

  1. Oh man, I hear ya! I recently survived the dentist myself. I don’t think I could ever handle a root canal. I’m ok with the drilling sounds, I just feel like I have a hard time breathing or I’m going to choke on my saliva or tongue or something. I’m so glad you found someone that is affordable AND sounds like a good doctor. As for traveling somewhere to get dentil work done for cheap (a cleaning and a filling cost me $229 the other day), my only concern would be the materials used in the fillings. But, maybe that’s me being naive?

    • You know, I didn’t even think about that, but of course I never ask at home either. I jay assume that they would have quality products. But that’s probably naive on my part, or I have been really blessed with great doctors and dentists.
      Most of the places I have been to seem to have the same (or better) medical or dental supplies than America. But I am sure that’s not always the case. 🙂

  2. That depends on the cost and quality. I currently need quite a bit of work done because in the past when i should have gotten it done it was going to cost me and Paul, an arm, a leg and our first born. 😉 Luckily now we will have amazing (or so im told) insurance so Ill be able to get it done soon. Travelling for the work sounds a bit scary but if it shaved off quite a bit of out of pocket and was a clean environment id go for it. But im cheap 🙂

    • I had a deep root cleaning before we left for our trip and it cost me $800 (after insurance)! That’s almost an airline ticket. 🙂
      I am glad you are getting good insurance. Congrats to you guys! See you all soon!

  3. Haha…I feel you!!! I’m like you when visiting the dentist. I’m hardly ever relaxed and lie very stiffly even if the dentist is just doing cleaning. The sound of the drilling unnerves me too!!! I always imagined it as a background music to a horror movie – I even told my friends of this….haha…but I’m comforted by the fact that I’ve a lovely dentist who is very gentle and understanding with me….haha…:)

  4. Blessedly undramatic!

    I tend to ruin my teeth to the point they need extraction rather than fillings (I’ve got no fillings but six missing) and consequently I don’t fear the dentist, only the oral surgeon. There’s a lot of places I’d have the work done – the US isn’t one of them, unless special circumstances which include a lot of insurance – but I am a bit selective and wouldn’t just jump in wherever.

    The idea of travelling specifically for the purpose of medical procedures is a bit suspicious to me. There are genuine reasons (e.g. highly specialised situation requiring work by a particular team/equipment), but if people are doing it for more everyday things like root canals, it should be a red flag for the failing health of the system.

    • I know many people in California who have traveled to Mexico for dental procedures due to the much lower costs. I think something non-evasive like a filling repair I would do almost anywhere. More extensive surgery… I don’t know. I would have to research the place and quality than i did for yesterday’s appointment… Although word of mouth I think is usually one of the best ways of finding a good healthcare professional.

      • Ah, Southern US to Mexico I can see. Singapore to Malaysia isn’t too bad, either, come to think of it.

        Yeah, the more risk, the more research. Having worked in veterinary practice I’m always cautious with word of mouth, because I’ve heard people sing the praises of vets who, in my professional opinion, are not just “average” but actually need to be disciplined. There are some very charismatic practitioners out there and expertise doesn’t always match. At the same time I’ve heard people tear strips off great vets because of complications that really were beyond their control, or because the excellent surgeon doesn’t have good bedside manner or even because the receptionist was grumpy or new and disorganised and that left them with a poor impression.

        I do give more weight to referrals from professionals in the field and some places have publicly-available data on patient outcomes, although you have to think about what they have and haven’t measured there, as well.

  5. I hate the dentist, I’m exactly like you! I do know a lot of Aussie who will fly to Thailand to have dental work done because it is good and totally affordable. So glad it was painless for you

    • Obviously I am pretty impressed with the dentist that I went to here in Thailand, and the price is sweet! I am so glad it was painless and I walked out to chew another day. Haha

  6. Here in Hungary there is “dental tourism”. Meaning people come forom other countries to have dental work done here, for cheaper. Lots of people come from Austria. I hate going to the dentist. I hate the drilling sound, it freaks me out, i get so stressed out from it…. When I sit in the chair, I always end up moving farther away, the dentist has to remind me to “come closer “, and he is a good looking guy 🙂

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